Harnessing Collective Intelligence
04/08/2010 2 Comments
How Web 2.0 empowers professional collaboration in Agile SD.
The term web 2.0 brings to mind key aspects of its evolution such as Collaboration, Convergence, Participation, SEO, Syndication, Usability and technologies such as Open APIs, XHTML, Ruby on Rails, SOAP and AJAX, amongst others. While these aspects highlight the key impact web 2.0 has made on our lives, we are yet to realise the full potential of this trend of web development and how it can further enrich our web experience. Even so, some web 2.0 applications have in a very short time made significant strides in enhancing the way we interact within the limitations of the digital world. One such application I would like to elaborate on is that of web-conferencing and how it enhances professional collaboration in iterative software development projects across the world utilising Agile/Scrum/XP, overcoming traditional constraints of managing virtual teams.
What are iterative SD projects? Well, simply put, traditional software development – or waterfall SD – consists of the standard RADTM (Requirement gathering – Analysis – Development – Testing – Maintenance) approach in which each milestone has a rigid, defined place in a project plan based on prerequisites. The benefits of this approach are consistent development practices, adherence to timeframes and significant documentation of each stage to safeguard against scope-creep. The major problem is that the only true constant in a project should be quality. The customer should have the ability to change, redefine or reorder any project effort based on the dynamics of their business and business drivers that determine delivery priorities. This led to the evolution of standard SD methodologies into iterative SD practices. The only constant in an iterative SD effort is quality; scope and timelines are directly determined by the customer’s business drivers. Certainly, milestones are defined in a certain order, however, instead of making projections for the entire project delivery, the deliverables are mapped out into weekly, or fortnightly efforts (sprints/scrums) with a focus on feature demos at the end of each iteration. Each iteration is launched based on client go-ahead and the last iteration is reserved for code assimilation, check-listing and project delivery.
How do iterative SD projects benefit from web 2.0? The only method of ensuring project success in an iterative SD effort is to ensure equitable participation by all key stakeholders in a particular iteration through a system of daily & weekly iteration meetings, with periodic iteration demonstrations and status meetings. This becomes quite difficult to achieve given the increasing trend of virtual teams in IT. With the advent of web 2.0, technologies such as web-conferencing and practices such as consultative documentation review have greatly empowered professional and technical collaboration beyond the traditional limitations of distributed teams. Using web-conferencing product demos are now possible actively involving development, testing, maintenance and delivery teams as well as clients engaging them in active dialogue and collaboration through the process. There are a host of such technology providers that have solutions for live conferencing as well as web story-boarding which has largely replaced paper-based story-boarding as a highly effective tool for interaction between clients and service providers, allowing for the sharing, review and reordering of development priorities. The possibilities of stakeholder inclusion at every stage of the iterative process are virtually limitless. Web 2.0 technologies can be directly credited for creating numerous such platforms for better, more effective, professional collaboration in the IT industry today.
Where is this trend headed? Web 2.0 as a paradigm affecting online experiences is in a phase of constant flux and it might yet be hard to determine where exactly these trends are headed. One might only conclude that the driving principle for web 2.0 might persist in its objective for creating virtual interaction spaces that are inclusive rather than exclusive, and hopefully – grow from there. Please comment on how web 2.0 has shaped the way you communicate, conference or run projects..